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Evanston couple must give up Korean baby

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  • Sunny Jo
    Evanston couple must give up Korean baby By Lisa Black Tribune reporter 6:30 a.m. CST, March 5, 2013 An Evanston couple accused of circumventing South Korean
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 5, 2013
      Evanston couple must give up Korean baby

      By Lisa Black Tribune reporter

      6:30 a.m. CST, March 5, 2013

      An Evanston couple accused of circumventing South Korean adoption laws
      have lost their bid to keep a 9-month-old girl whom they've raised
      since shortly after her birth, with the baby scheduled to return to
      her native country Wednesday, officials have confirmed.

      Jinshil and Christopher Duquet have said they relied on bad legal
      advice and thought they were participating in a lawful private
      adoption of the baby, Sehwa, in June.

      But when Jinshil Duquet initially tried to enter the U.S. with the
      baby, authorities at O'Hare International Airport found she lacked the
      required paperwork for an adoption. After that, South Korean and U.S.
      officials intervened and fought in local and federal courts for the
      baby's return.

      "It looks like South Korea has prevailed," said Nancy Pender, a
      spokeswoman for Schiller DuCanto & Fleck, the law firm representing
      the South Korean government in the case.

      She declined to provide details about what triggered the action or how
      the baby's deportation will be handled. The Duquets had been pursuing
      a private adoption through Cook County Circuit Court in proceedings
      that are closed to the public. The court most recently heard the case
      Thursday, Pender said.

      The Duquets, through their lawyers, declined comment. The couple have
      said that if they must give up the baby, they want their goodbyes to
      remain private.

      "The case didn't work out, basically," said one of their lawyers,
      Jamie Teich. "Our whole team of people here are saddened and
      devastated by it."

      Officials with the U.S. Department of Justice declined comment.

      Sehwa will be placed with a South Korean family for adoption, as
      opposed to an orphanage, Pender said.

      The baby's birth mother and grandparents relinquished parental rights
      to the Duquets and do not want the child back, officials agree. The
      biological mother lives at a homeless shelter for unwed mothers and
      already has another child, according to court testimony.

      But South Korean officials say the Duquets skirted Korean laws by
      failing to go through a licensed adoption agency. Jinshil Duquet, a
      South Korea native who moved to the U.S. as a child, learned about the
      baby through a pastor with ties to her family, she testified in court.

      She contacted immigration lawyers in Chicago, who put her in touch
      with a South Korean lawyer who said he could arrange for a private
      adoption. The Duquets had earlier adopted an older daughter from South
      Korea by going through an agency but were told they were too old under
      South Korean law to follow the same procedures again.

      The Duquets argued that, despite their mistakes, it was in Sehwa's
      best interests to remain with them.

      South Korea and other countries have tightened laws on foreign
      adoptions in recent years to prevent trafficking and abuse, and the
      South Korean government has provided new incentives for domestic
      adoptions. Some experts say many South Korean children remain in
      orphanages because of a cultural stigma against adoption and unwed

      While Sehwa's situation "is tragic … it certainly points out to why
      you follow the rules," said Susan Soonkeum Cox, spokeswoman for Holt
      International Children's Services in Eugene, Ore., which arranges
      international adoptions.

      She has just returned from South Korea, where the Duquets' case has
      been covered extensively by news media.

      "While people were sympathetic to everyone, within the adult adoptee
      community, it was reinforced that you just can't willy-nilly get a
      child," Cox said. "Children deserve to have the protection of
      authorities and government."


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